DO NOT FREAK ME OUT registry

scream

I would like to make a statement.

Two of them, in fact.

#1.  Not changing, because of fear, is bad.
#2.  Changing, because of fear, is equally as bad.

Or, if you’d like to reduce them down even further:  Fear is bad.

I’m somewhat of an anxiety sponge, and I’ll own that.

I can take other people’s fears and allow them to amplify my own.

Because of that, I wish Facebook had a “low anxiety” setting that I could employ, because lately I’ve been hearing a whole lot of fear about The Church:

“Open letters” to the dying Church.

How-to articles to lessen the hemorrhaging of local congregations.

There are some constructive pieces, to be sure, but so much fear!

Fear about statistics.

Fear about schism.  Fear about the future.

I wonder sometimes — do folks know how contagious this stuff is?

People can read this stuff, and despair. (And then for some unexplained reason, click “share”.)

I’d like to join a DO NOT FREAK ME OUT registry.

I’d even take a test to be allowed to sign up:

__ Yes, I know about the general decline of Christianity in the United States.

__ Yes, I know that our churches have to work extra hard to be vital.

__ Yes, I know that our denomination is perilously at odds with itself on the issue of Homosexuality.

There, I’ve checked off all three.  I care very much, and am committed to doing my faithful share.

(Can I get back to Buzzfeed quizzes and pictures of funny cats?)

The truth is, any system that is in a high level of stress will not be fully functional.

So instead retraumatizing ourselves with the considerable challenges we face, let’s take a few deep breaths, praise God who reigns forever, and continue the joyful work of being, and making, Disciples.

Have a great week,

Mitch

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The Winter Stream

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I took this picture on my recent flight from Kansas to North Carolina.

Look at all those tiny boxes.  Each of them a mile-wide pasture.

From the air, you can clearly see the structure and order that humanity superimposes onto creation.  And it’s beautiful in of itself.

But what is truly breathtaking to me is the river.

* * *

When I was 10, we lived in the country, outside a little town called Saline, Michigan.

Winters there were pretty heavy duty.  We’d pull on our snowmobile suits, build snow forts, go cross-country skiing.

Snow was everywhere.  White like the surface of the moon.

One year, out in front of the yard, in the large ditch by the dirt road, the snow began to melt.  There were still big piles of the stuff everywhere else, but as the sun passed overhead on that late winter day, a single stream of water began to form.

How can I describe the magic of this next part?

There in the ditch, the tiny stream pushed back the snow, and wound its way back and forth around tiny trees. stones, and discarded brush.  My friend and I watched it work, and nudged the dirt here and there to help it expand and stretch.

There in that desolate-white landscape, we were staring down at something that was Alive.

It was revelatory for us.  Almost incarnational.

We were caretakers of that stream up until darkness came, and we were called in for dinner.

* * *

Back in the airplane.

Take another look out of my window seat, above.

See that S-like line weaving its way across the middle of the picture?

When I saw it, some 10,000 feet overhead, I instantly remembered looking down at that winter stream, some 35 years ago.

I love how it winds its way across the landscape, charting its own course, crossing all boundaries.

It is clearly Alive.

Streams of living waters, Jesus said. Yes.  A living Spirit of God that nurtures and refreshes.

I wonder.  Is this how God views God’s self at work?  Staring down from on high?

Is this the perspective of Creation?

Lord knows I’m still just an ant,

but I have seen the winding snake, and the living water.

I have drunk deeply from the winter stream,

and I have believed.

* * *

Have a great week,

Mitch

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